Paul Holmes — Managing Director PCH Business Support

I have been working with a great little engineering company now for about a year, more recently in preparation for the role of a General Manager, something I had identified as being critical to the business moving forward.

The company is primarily distribution but has grown steadily, introducing their own manufactured products in recent years.

The success of the distribution side of the business has not allowed the basic systems and processes to be developed, as it’s been all hands to the pumps and the manufacturing side of the business has required a disproportionate amount of time and energy to develop and run.

As a result, the team is running at or beyond capacity, improvements and developments are on hold. The owner is dealing with a constant list of questions from the team, firefighting issues, limited time for strategy, making it hard to engage and develop new business.

The scenario is very common of businesses that have become more successful than the processes and investment can keep up with, but this company now recognizes it needs to change before the intensity takes its toll.

Having identified the need for change, actually making a change is a very different challenge, when no one has time to stop. Working with the team, we have steadily progressed through all the possible areas for improvement, itemized and prioritized them, but now it’s time to implement!

I am fundamentally challenging the way the business works, introducing key management meetings to analyse the issues and start to focus the team’s interaction with the owner, to being more quality time rather than constant questions.

A tough challenge is to increase lead times temporarily, giving the team permission to focus on more cost effective, higher reward customers and begin to limit some of the smaller orders — Saying no to potential business is very culturally difficult, but as the business has grown along with the overheads, so the scale of the customers must do too.

The next step is to agree some time during the week, when every member of the team can start to work on improvement projects. The same too for the owner to allocate protected time, to plan and evaluate.

Investing the time will be invaluable in the longer term, but it may feel like wasted time that could be winning orders and selling products in the short term.

The process has required some tough conversations, working as a partnership, making effective changes to free up time and find capacity by improving the critical processes.

It’s a real journey, but at this critical stage it’s what will separate the company’s deserved future success, from potential failure if it doesn’t.

If you need help in business and would like a no obligation initial session then contact Paul Holmes